Wednesday, April 24, 2024

New WA wages policy to support public sector workforce

The WA Government today reaffirmed its commitment to attracting and retaining highly skilled and valued public servants with the release of a new Public Sector Wages Policy.

It says the new principles-based wages policy is flexible and will allow for bargained outcomes with individual public sector unions.

Premier, Roger Cook said the policy will prioritise bargaining outcomes that improve public sector operations and performance, deliver fair but financially sustainable wage increases and conditions, and support longer-term attraction and retention of public sector workers.

“My Government is committed to good-faith bargaining with public sector unions, and the approach to future bargaining we are outlining today reflects this,” said the Premier.

“The new Wages Policy will provide flexibility in bargaining to address the industrial issues most important to the State’s public sector workforce.

“It will deliver fair but financially sustainable wage increases and conditions of employment, that are reasonable in the context of each negotiation.

“We are keen to deliver fair wage outcomes and appropriate conditions to the important workforces in our public sector, and have been able to back this up with significant funding allocated to future negotiations, thanks to my Government’s ongoing responsible management of the State’s finances,” he said.

While the full financial impacts will be finalised at the end of the bargaining process, $2.8 billion has been provisioned in the upcoming Mid-year Review over the forward estimates period to allow for negotiation of wage and non‑wage workforce conditions as part of new industrial agreements.

“Our Government has valued the public sector and increased the size of the public sector workforce since 2017, while also bringing privatised services back to government,” said Treasurer, Rita Saffioti.

“The focus for us is delivering sustainable wage increases for our public sector workforce.

“We’re very keen to ensure sustainable wage increases and conditions can be negotiated in good faith through the bargaining process with public sector unions, and this new policy allows for that.

“We’re in a position to do this because of our strong financial management, which has long been a priority and hallmark of our Government.

“We want to have the financial capacity to deliver fair wage increases, continue to support the workforce with better conditions, while also ensuring our finances stay strong so we don’t put our State in the same position as others who are cutting services and creating redundancies.”

Complementary to the new wages policy, the WA Government will also invest in boosting the capability of the WA public sector by developing a focused training program tailored to the evolving needs of the sector. 

To be led by the Public Sector Commission, this work will amount to the biggest capability lift the public sector has ever had and help to ensure an integrated focus on training.

Under the policy, the Government will negotiate Enterprise Agreements of up to three years in length.

The policy will apply to negotiations for all Enterprise Agreements that expired on or after 1 October 2023.

“It is important that public sector workers feel valued and appreciated in the many roles they do around Western Australia,” said Industrial Relations Minister, Simone McGurk.

“The bargaining flexibility offered under the new Wages Policy will be critical moving forward as we work to address the various issues and needs of individual public sector workforces and their unions.

“We continue to engage positively with all unions and work towards settlements of outstanding negotiations.”

The previous Public Sector Wages Policy will continue to apply to industrial agreements that expired before 1 October 2023.

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